Choir! Choir! Choir! event at Massey Hall in Toronto. (Photo/Joseph Fuda)
Choir! Choir! Choir! event at Massey Hall in Toronto. (Photo/Joseph Fuda)

Hallelujah! It’s time for a Hanukkah-themed Leonard Cohen sing-along

Have you missed the unique joy of singing with others during these isolating pandemic times? If so, you may want to warm up your vocal chords in preparation for an in-person, Hanukkah-themed, communal sing-along at the JCCSF on Thursday, Dec. 2.

Organized in partnership with the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the evening will feature a repertoire of Hanukkah standards, as well as popular songs by Paul Simon, Neil Diamond and Carole King. In addition, a Toronto-based duo of singers (who tour as Choir! Choir! Choir!) will teach the vocal arrangement for Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

All attendees 12 and older will need to present proof of vaccination and keep their masks on throughout the program.

“It will be nice to be able to sing with other people,” said Stephanie Singer, the director of JCCSF’s Arts & Ideas. “It’s a simple thing, but it’s actually really life-affirming and feels good.”

Half-priced tickets can be purchased online using code ​​AICHOIR50OFF. Refreshments, including Hanukkah cookies and gelt, will be served.

George Fok’s “Passing Through” (2017), a multichannel video installation appearing at the Contemporary Jewish Museum as part of the "Experience Leonard Cohen" exhibit.
George Fok’s “Passing Through” (2017), a multichannel video installation appearing at the Contemporary Jewish Museum as part of the “Experience Leonard Cohen” exhibit.

The sing-along is part of the CJM’s “Experience Leonard Cohen,” an ambitious, multipart exhibit about the life and legacy of Cohen, who died in 2016. The exhibit includes a video installation by George Fok and a series of paintings by Bay Area artist Judy Chicago (on view through Jan. 2), as well as a video installation by Candice Breitz and a residency by percussionist Marshall Trammell (through Feb. 13).

In an overview of “Experience Leonard Cohen,” Andrew Gilbert wrote in J.: “Cohen was an artist who wasn’t afraid to fail. Creating a space where unexpected musical encounters can unfold in the moment sounds like just the kind of tribute that he would appreciate.”

Singer pointed out that while other groups often perform the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah” at this time of year, Cohen’s most famous song is a more appropriate choice for a Jewish community sing-along. “This is really our ‘Hallelujah,’” she said.

Founded in 2011 by Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman, Choir! Choir! Choir! conducts community-building singing events around North America. In 2016, the group gathered 1,500 people for a performance of Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with Rufus Wainwright in Toronto.

“Choir! Choir! Choir! Presents ‘Hallelujah’ the Epic Singalong,” 7-8:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in JCCSF’s Kanbar Hall, 3200 California St. $10 with discount code AICHOIR50OFF.

Andrew Esensten
Andrew Esensten

Andrew Esensten is the culture editor of J. Previously, he was a staff writer for the English-language edition of Haaretz based in Tel Aviv.